Seven destinations for decadent afternoon tea
At this time of year, hotels and restaurants up their game in the afternoon tea ritual
Luttrellstown Castle: This year the tea has a Victorian theme, in honour of Queen Victoria who made two visits to the estate.
Castles, five-star hotels and upmarket department stores are just some of the venues proving to be popular locations to indulge in the ritual of afternoon tea. With Christmas approaching, many of them are rolling out festive editions of their lavish spreads. Here are a few to choose from.
This fairytale castle in Castleknock is only open on certain dates during the year, but for each Sunday during December, as well as Monday 23rd, it will welcome guests for afternoon tea.
This year the tea has a Victorian theme, in honour of Queen Victoria who made two visits to the estate. It features sandwiches of smoked Knockanore cheddar with homemade Branston pickle, and roast pork loin with cranberry stuffing and apple relish. Sweet treats include plain scones as well as cinnamon and rum and raisin varieties, served with clotted cream, and a miniature Victoria sponge.
Afternoon tea €50; Champagne afternoon tea €65. Reservations at luttrellstowncastle.com
Chef Johnnie Cooke’s menu for festive afternoon tea in his restaurant in Brown Thomas in Dublin is very tempting, and the entire decadent selection is presented on a tea stand replicating the facade of the Grafton Street store.
The savoury snacks are a St Tola goat’s cheese tartlet; truffle gougeres with morel mushrooms, black truffle and Parmesan; coronation chicken with red endive; and a buckwheat crepe with organic smoked salmon, caviar and creme fraiche. Champagne and raspberry macarons, Sicilian lemon tart, creme brûlée, and coconut, raspberry and passionfruit mousse are the sweet offerings.
There is a “little shoppers” option too, with mini quiches, mini brioche sliders and Nutella and banana sandwiches.
Afternoon tea €45, including a glass of prosecco (Champagne and cocktails at a supplement); Little Shoppers afternoon tea €17.50. Reservations on 01-6171163. Available until December 19th
The Shelbourne hotel
The Lord Mayor’s Lounge holds a special place in the heart of many Dubliners, and although it is undeniably grand, it is also a comfortable space.
Festive afternoon tea begins with delicate finger sandwiches, made with salmon smoked in-house, roast turkey with stuffing, and traditional egg mayonnaise and cress. Buttermilk scones come with clotted cream and the hotel’s own preserves, and warm gingerbread.
Pastry chefs get to work their magic , with festive treats including cranberry jelly with eggnog mousse, Black Forest gateau, dark chocolate mousse with orange gel and brownies, and panna cotta with strawberry compote.
Afternoon tea €62; Champagne afternoon tea €79; children’s afternoon tea €30. Reservations on 01-6634500. Available until January 1st
This hotel in Co Wicklow serves an inclusive afternoon tea, with a gluten-free option and a children’s version. The mainstay offering features goat’s cheese and candied walnut on brioche; warm Gruyère and smoked salmon tart; smoked chicken, bacon and Parmesan on sourdough; and turkey and cranberry savoury buns.
The all-important scones are cranberry and chocolate versions, served with lemon curd, clotted cream and raspberry jam. Red Velvet and coconut cake, cinnamon, cranberry and white chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate and gingerbread cremeux provide a sweet finish.
Afternoon tea €32; afternoon tea with prosecco €41, with Champagne €50. Reservations on 01-2870877. Available until January 6th
The Westin, on Dublin’s Westmoreland Street, has given its Atrium Lounge a successful makeover that has transformed it into an elegant space with squishy armchairs and an open fire.
For its festive afternoon tea, turkey with cranberry mayonnaise is served on wholegrain bread; Wright’s smoked salmon comes on a brown scone with caper and cream cheese; and the traditional cucumber sandwich is given a twist with spinach bread. Mince pies are on the patisserie selection, along with fruit scones, cranberry and Madeira cake, Christmas pudding cheesecake and a Christmas elf meringue.
Afternoon tea €42. Reservations on 01-6451149
Killashee hotel in Naas, Co Kildare, is ideally positioned to combine afternoon tea with a shopping expedition to nearby Kildare Village and Newbridge Silverware. Afternoon tea is also very fairly priced.
Goat’s cheese mousse with red onion jam on focaccia, spiced beef and horseradish sliders; smoked salmon and crème fraiche tart, and roast turkey and cranberry on treacle bread are the savoury items. Sweet treats include eggnog custard tart, mini Christmas puddings, spiced mulled wine choux buns, and gingerbread macarons with ginger ganache. Scones come plain, or flavoured with orange and cranberry.
Afternoon tea €30; with prosecco €35. Reservations on 045-879277. Available December 2nd to 22nd
The Intercontinental hotel
Known for its lavish floral decorations and its show-stopping Christmas tree and decorations, the Intercontinental in Dublin 4 is a great choice for a festive afternoon tea. This year’s edition begins with finger sandwiches: smoked salmon and dill cream cheese; lemon scented chicken salad; egg paprika; and ham, cheese and mustard varieties. There are open sandwiches too, with crab salad, and roast beef with horseradish.
Buttermilk scones come with clotted cream and mango and raspberry preserves. The festive vibes get ramped up with the patisserie selection, which features a pistachio Christmas tree, white chocolate eggnog mousse, spiced chocolate crème brûlée, and caramelised pecan roulade. The hotel provides takeaway boxes for guests unable to finish their treats.
Afternoon tea €40; with Champagne €55; children’s afternoon tea €15. Reservations on 01-6654000. Available from December 1st